The Primal Low-Carb Kitchen
Comfort Food Recipes for the Carb Conscious Cook
By Kyndra Holley
Page Street Publishing Co. Copyright © 2015 Kyndra Holley
All rights reserved.
The theme of this book is comfort. That extends beyond just the recipes. I want you to feel comfortable being in the kitchen and comfortable in your primal low-carb lifestyle. This opening chapter is full of great resources to help you do just that. From uncovering hidden sources of gluten to simple swaps, this chapter has you covered.
HIDDEN SOURCES OF GLUTEN
Hidden gluten is all around us. It is lurking in some of the least likely of places. If you suffer from gluten insensitivity or intolerance, it can be vitally important to be aware of potential sources of gluten that you may come in contact with on a daily basis. Did you know that a surprising amount of gluten is hidden in non-food-related items as well? Here is an outline of some of those sources.
Artificial colors, such as caramel coloring
Bacon, jerky, sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats
Bouillon cubes, broths, seasonings and spices
Canned meats (tuna, chicken, beef, etc.)
Colorings and flavorings
Diet or weight-loss shakes
Envelopes and stamps
Food starch and modified food starch
Liquid smoke and smoke flavorings
Pickles and relish
Pre-made cocktail mixes
Salad dressings, condiments, gravies and sauces
Salami and other deli meats
Store-bought pasta sauces
Store-bought spice mixes
Here are several small steps you can take to make sure that you are not unknowingly gluten-dosing yourself:
You can avoid accidental cross-contamination with gluten by thoroughly reading and inspecting nutrition labels and then researching ingredients you may not be familiar with.
When dining out, do not hesitate to ask the server, chef or managers whether there is gluten in any of the dishes you are interested in. As someone who worked in the restaurant industry for fifteen years, I highly recommend asking to speak to the chef directly. The chef will be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the menu and its ingredients.
When you are unsure, the easiest thing to do is just SKIP IT!
Switching to a primal low-carb lifestyle doesn't have to mean giving up your favorite foods. It simply means that sometimes it becomes necessary to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to healthy alternatives. I have compiled a list of creative solutions to leave you feeling satisfied, instead of deprived.
Bread — Gluten-free wraps and tortillas, lettuce wraps, portobello mushrooms
Breading — Parmesan cheese, pork rinds, almond flour, coconut flour, ground flaxseeds and chia seeds
Chips and crackers — Pork rinds, vegetable chips, cucumber slices, prosciutto crisps, pepperoni chips, cheese crisps, kale chips, Brussels sprout chips, sweet potato chips, dried seaweed snacks, nuts, jicama, fried green beans, sliced bell pepper
Croutons — Nuts, cheese crisps, fried gluten-free salami
Flour — Almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, protein powder, hazelnut flour, macadamia nut flour
French fries — Turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, zucchini
Hash browns — Grated zucchini, celeriac, rutabaga, grated cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato
Lasagna noodles — Sliced eggplant, sliced zucchini
Mashed potatoes — Cauliflower mash, celery root mash, whipped sweet potatoes
Milk — Almond milk, coconut milk, heavy cream
Pasta — Vegetable noodles, shredded cabbage, cauliflower florets, spaghetti squash, zucchini, shirataki noodles, kelp noodles
Pizza — Cauliflower pizza crust, pizza stuffed peppers, pizza chicken, pizza stuffed mushrooms, pizza casseroles
Rice — Grated zucchini, riced cauliflower, shirataki rice
Soy sauce — Gluten-free soy sauce, coconut aminos, tamari, liquid aminos
CREATIVE WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR GROCERY BUDGET
Ask stores whether they price match — this saves you from going to multiple stores.
Avoid products placed at the end of store aisles and on checkout stands.
Browse ad circulars each week and shop according to the sales.
Buy discounted meats and freeze them.
Buy generic equivalents instead of shopping by brand name.
Buy groceries with cash or debit cards and skip the high-interest credit cards.
Buy in bulk whenever possible.
Buy your meat from a butcher or buy an entire animal at a time.
Grow your own garden.
Join a CSA or local co-op for your produce.
Make freezer meals in large quantities.
Make your meals from scratch instead of buying packaged meals — skip the convenience cost and the additives.
Meal plan before shopping.
Repurpose leftovers into new meals.
Search top and bottoms shelves for less expensive items — the most expensive products are usually in the middle at eye level.
Shop farmers' markets.
Shop for produce according to season and don't be afraid to buy frozen.
Shop multiple stores when necessary to maximize the savings.
Shop the perimeter of the store — fresh produce, meats and dairy are on the perimeter, whereas junk food normally lines the shelves of the inner aisles.
Stick to your list.
Stock up on sale items for products you use regularly.
Subscribe to store reward programs.
Take advantage of your vacuum sealer.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR GROCERY BUDGET WITHOUT INCREASING YOUR TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES
Cancel memberships you aren't actually using regularly — gym, wine clubs, media streaming, magazine subscriptions, etc.
Cancel your cable services.
Carpool, ride the bus, walk or bike to work.
Consign unwanted or unused household items.
Consolidate or refinance loans wherever possible.
DIY whenever possible.
Do regularly scheduled maintenance on your vehicles to avoid costly repairs.
Host an evening of friends and fun instead of going out.
Keep your home 1 degree cooler when you are home and turn off the thermostat when you leave.
Negotiate interest rates with credit card companies.
Only do full loads of laundry and dishes, to save on electricity.
Outfit your home with energy-efficient lightbulbs.
Pack a lunch for work instead of going out to eat.
Reassess wants versus needs.
Restructure cell phone plans and comparison-shop different providers.
Skip the daily stop at your local coffee stand.
Split entrées and skip drinks and desserts when dining out.
Trade services with others, based on skills and talents.
Watch movies at home and enjoy your own snacks.
When dining out, take advantage of happy hours and restaurant promotions.
MY KITCHEN MUST-HAVES
Box grater — Four-sided box graters are an inexpensive but valuable tool to have in your kitchen. Each side is different, allowing you to zest, grate, shred and even slice.
Cast-iron pans — Cast-iron pans are such a solid investment because they will easily outlive all of us. My mom still has the same cast-iron pans from when I was born. Not a lot of things in this world are affordable and can stand the test of time. They are naturally nonstick, can grill and sauté and even withstand the heat of an oven.
Colanders — Colanders are another inexpensive kitchen necessity. Not only are they useful for draining such things as vegetable noodles and cauliflower rice, but they are also great for washing fresh produce and steaming vegetables and can even prolong the life of moisture-sensitive vegetables, such as mushrooms, when used for fridge storage.
Food processor — What don't food processors do? My most common uses are making low-carb breading mixtures, making cauliflower rice, grinding nuts and making nut butters, pureeing soups and mixing dressings and sauces. It even has a grating feature, which is incredibly handy for grating vegetables or large amounts of cheese.
Food scale — A good food scale will prevent a great number of kitchen disasters. It will help keep your recipes accurate, make conversions a breeze and help you practice portion control.
Garbage bowl — You can use any old large bowl for this. It is so handy to keep a bowl in the center of all the action to put all your unwanted wrappers and scraps into. It saves you from making multiple trips to the garbage can while preparing your meals.
Lots and lots of cutting boards — I am a cutting board junkie. I have a variety of wooden ones, along with glass, plastic and marble. When I set out for a day of cooking, I usually cover my counter with cutting boards. Using a separate cutting board for different food groupings helps cut down on the potential of cross-contamination of foods. You would hate to serve someone fresh vegetables that had come into contact with raw chicken.
Nested stainless steel mixing bowls with lids — Having a variety of different-size mixing bowls really comes in handy when you are making more than one dish at a time. Stainless-steel bowls are easy to clean and last a long time. They will be hanging out with your cast-iron pans, long after you are gone. Getting a set that includes lids comes in handy for making a dish and transporting it in the same bowl.
Parchment paper — Parchment makes clean up a cinch for anything you bake, including those full sheet pans of bacon.
Pots and pans — A reliable set of cookware is a must. I suggest putting some research into this and saving up for a high-quality set. I personally have a Calphalon set, and I couldn't be happier with it.
Ramekins and pinch bowls — I use ramekins and pinch bowls daily. They are great for portioning out chopped veggies, shredded cheeses, seasonings and so on. It is a great way to prep and stage all the necessary ingredients for a recipe. The sets I have are also oven safe and come with lids. This makes them great for baking single portion items and also for storing leftover ingredients.
Rimmed baking sheets — Rimmed baking sheets are great all-purpose baking sheets. The rimmed sides prevent spillage. They are excellent for baking, roasting vegetables, cooking meats, you name it!
Rubber spatulas, wooden spoons and tongs — I often joke that if I were to lose a hand, I could easily get by with one of these as a substitution, especially the tongs. These are an indispensable part of my kitchen.
Slow cooker — Slow cookers are perfect for lazy fall and winter days. They do all the work for you. Toss the ingredients in, turn it on and let it go to work. They are also a great way to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. Cooking meat slowly and at a lower temperature makes even the toughest cuts fall to pieces.
Spiral slicer — A spiral slicer is a low-carber's best friend. The low-carb world changed forever with the introduction of vegetable noodles — so easy to make and such a great way to get more vegetables in your diet.
SIMPLE SEASONING BLENDS
It is really simple and even kind of fun to make your own spice blends. One of the many reasons I started doing this was because, as we covered earlier, many of the store-bought seasonings are not gluten-free. Not only do many of them contain gluten, but they also have a lot of nasty chemicals and additives to keep them from clumping and to extend their shelf life. Making your own seasoning blends is far more affordable and far better for your health. These are the staples that I always have on hand in my spice pantry. I whip up a batch as needed and just store them in an airtight container. I also like to double or triple the batches and give them out in mason jars as gifts!
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
2 tbsp (20 g) chili powder
2 tbsp (15 g) ground cumin
2 tsp (5 g) onion powder
2 tsp (7 g) garlic powder
2 tsp (5 g) celery salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic salt
PER SERVING: 9 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Net Carb
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
1½ tbsp (10 g) paprika
1 tbsp (10 g) garlic powder
1 tbsp (7 g) onion powder
1 tbsp (5 g) dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp dried oregano
PER SERVING: 6 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 1g Net Carb
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
1 tbsp (5 g) dried thyme
1 tbsp (2 g) rubbed sage
1 tbsp (10 g) dried onion flakes
1½ tsp (8 g) sea salt
1½ tsp (5 g) garlic powder
3/4 tsp black pepper
PER SERVING: 4 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 1g Net Carb
DRY ONION SOUP MIX
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
4 tbsp (40 g) dried onion flakes
2 tbsp (30 g) organic, gluten-free, powdered beef bouillon
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp black pepper
PER SERVING: 10 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Net Carb
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
3 tbsp (55 g) sea salt
1½ tsp (4 g) onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp black pepper
PER SERVING: 2 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; trace Net Carb
SERVING SIZE: 1 TSP
2 tbsp (40 g) sea salt
1 tbsp (10 g) + 1 tsp dried onion flakes
1½ tsp (4 g) paprika
1½ tsp (4 g) cracked black pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp celery salt
½ tsp dried cumin
PER SERVING: 3 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 1g Net Carb
The starters or appetizers section is easily my favorite part of any menu or cookbook. Why? Because I love food! The portions are typically small and therefore, I can order multiple dishes without feeling guilty, or without crazy looks from service staff as I ramble off my vast list of selections.
My husband and I dine the same way. We just want to taste everything. We are a restaurant owner's dream come true. "The perfect check," as they call it in the industry: drinks, starters, salads, entrées, dessert, coffee. We hit all the courses. Before we know it, our bill looks as if a family of eight was just at our table. Recently we have changed our game plan a bit in an attempt to scale it down budget-wise and waistline-wise. Now we typically each get a salad and then share anywhere between two and four appetizers. That way we get to taste a little of everything without being tied down to one large main dish. The alternative would be going around to other tables and asking for bites of their dishes. No one wants that!
The other thing I love about starters is that it is the one course that brings everyone together. This is where the magic happens. It is the course made for sharing. Sharing of food and sharing of conversation. How many meaningful conversations have you had while sharing a plate of delicious food? Countless, right? One could argue that starters bring people together, even if only through a shared love of food.
This chapter has some new spins on classic favorites. Make some Loaded Sweet Potato Bites and Baked Heirloom Caprese Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette, pour some wine and let the conversation flow.
LOADED SWEET POTATO BITES
One of my all-time favorite appetizers is and always has been potato skins. These sweet potato bites have all of the pizzazz of a potato skin but with a much lower carb count and pack a lot of essential vitamins and antioxidants into your diet. This is one of my favorite dishes to take to potluck-style parties. It is so simple but always manages to impress.
1 lb (455 g) sweet potato, sliced in 1/4 inch (6 mm)-thick slices
3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil, plus more if needed
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup (60 g) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup (40 g) sour cream
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato slices, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Toss until the sweet potatoes are well coated.
Line the sweet potato slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the top rack for 25 minutes.
Top each sweet potato with cheese, sour cream, bacon and green onion.
PER SERVING: 210 Calories; 15g Fat; 6g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 12g Net Carbs (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Primal Low-Carb Kitchen by Kyndra Holley. Copyright © 2015 Kyndra Holley. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
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